August 7, 2013
By Dwight Dyer and Gavin Strong, Forbes, 8/6/2013
Though largely off the radar north of the Rio Grande, last month’s local elections in Mexico provide an opportunity to read the political tea leaves south of the border. As the first elections in President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term, the local polls in thirteen states and the gubernatorial contest in Baja California provide a partial picture of the electorate’s view of Peña Nieto’s first seven months in office.
The results were a mild rebuke of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which won approximately 55% of the posts contested, but suffered a net loss of 42 mayoralties—leaving a total of five million fewer citizens under PRI governments. However, the party is ahead in ten state assemblies, which will ease the eventual approval of constitutional changes considered in the upcoming energy reform. The results also highlighted the weakness of the major opposition parties following the 2012 presidential elections, given that they could only score important victories by running in coalition.
July 31, 2013
July has been an interesting month for Mexico watchers. The country started the month with local elections, captured a major cartel boss, faced a series of tough losses on the futbol pitch, and experienced a series of violent attacks by organized crime groups.
Here are some articles from this past month.
July 29, 2013
Of all the obstacles standing between the Republican Party and the White House, preventing heavily Latino, trending-blue Western states from settling comfortably into the Democratic column is high on the list. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval are two Republican politicians winning in precisely those kinds of places — and GOP officials who’ve been watching them say the party would be wise to pay attention.
The first-term governors have managed to strike the balance that party brass say is critical to the party’s future: staying true to the core message of smaller government and lower taxes without alienating Latinos and women on social issues. Though Martinez and Sandoval have been mentioned as potential national candidates, they have largely shunned the national spotlight, zeroing in on home-state issues and building political profiles distinct from the tarnished GOP brand.
July 25, 2013
The Washington Post, 7/25/2013
Prosecutors say they have arrested a man who faked his death to beat a rape charge, then later got elected mayor of a village in southern Mexico.
The Oaxaca state prosecutors’ office says Leninguer Carballido was arrested on charges of using fake documents and making false statements. Carballido was found late Tuesday hiding in a heavily fortified room at his family’s home on the outskirts of Oaxaca City. Carballido won July 7 elections for mayor of the village of San Agustin Amatengo.
July 15, 2013
USA Today, 7/15/2013
Bishop Raúl Vera cast a vote in Sunday’s local elections, then told the faithful: don’t back candidates associated with organized crime. Such admonishments have been rare from Catholic leaders in Mexico, who have mostly stayed silent on security issues and preferred not to upset the authorities or drug cartels — even as organized crime violence claimed more than 60,000 lives over the past six years and church officials fended off allegations they accepted donations from drug cartels.
The admonishment was vintage Vera, spoken plainly by a prelate less concerned with offending politicians than promoting the protection of human rights and providing pastoral attention to those not always welcome in the church — including gays — or neglected by the authorities, such as the victims of organized crime violence.
July 12, 2013
The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.
What the English-language press had to say…
Last Sunday’s local elections in Mexico dominated the headlines this week. The aftermath of the process has seen widespread confusion, with rival parties claiming cheating strategies against each other throughout the country. Overall, election results are expected to define and strengthen the attitude of the opposition parties and their strategy to contribute to Mr. Peña Nieto’s reform agenda, as the parties prepare to negotiate energy and fiscal reforms. The most closely watched election was Baja California, a northwestern state where the PAN has governed since 1989. With almost all the votes counted, a PAN-PRD alliance represented by Francisco “Kiko” Vega held the advantage early on Monday. However, Mexican election officials ordered a recount citing a glitch in the vote-counting system.
The Economist labeled the Pact for Mexico the ‘political workhorse’ in Mexican politics, highlighting the fact that none of the opposition parties appear ready to abandon the pact just yet. Both the PAN and PRD hope to use the alliance to negotiate political reforms that would weaken the PRI in some of its regional strongholds. The Economist also pointed out that now that the electoral process is over, President Peña Nieto is likely to face a hard choice between maintaining the Pact intact or going against the Left to reform Mexico’s energy sector. If it comes to that, the British weekly argues he should ditch the Pact to prevent it from becoming an obstacle to reform.
Read the rest of this entry »
July 10, 2013
The Christian Science Monitor, 7/9/2013
Results from Sunday’s local and legislative elections in 15 states appeared to bolster the prospects for reform of key state sectors. But the process also raised questions about the direction of Mexico’s democracy as stories of violence surged along with allegations of vote-buying and voter intimidation – vices that were supposed to be stamped out as the country moved from one-party rule to competitive elections.
The governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) won the mayor’s office in eight state capitals and most of the legislative races in play, as more than 900 municipalities and 12 state congresses were contested. The opposition National Action Party (PAN) claimed city halls in five state capitals and several border cities, and led the gubernatorial race in Baja California – where it has ruled since 1989 – until an error in the preliminary vote count system forced electoral officials to order a recount.
July 9, 2013
BBC News, 7/9/2013
Mexican election officials have sparked confusion by announcing the result of a key local election, and later saying that their count was unreliable. Both the opposition and the governing party had claimed victory in Sunday’s vote in Baja California state. The opposition, initially declared the winner, has threatened to withdraw co-operation with the federal government on a reform package agreed last year. Officials have ordered a recount, to be finalised by the weekend.
Mexicans in 14 states out of 31 federal entities voted for regional assemblies and municipal governments, but the only governorship up for grabs was in Baja California. The opposition National Action Party (PAN) took control of Baja California in 1989, and it has remained one of their most important power bases. Electoral officials announced on Monday that 97% of the votes in Baja California had been counted, and that the PAN candidate was three percentage points ahead of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate.
July 9, 2013
Wall Street Journal, 7/8/2013
With almost all the votes counted, Mexico’s opposition held the advantage early Monday for the governorship of the northwestern state of Baja California, a victory that is expected to remove uncertainty about opposition support for an ambitious reform agenda of President Enrique Peña Nieto. The results are expected to strengthen the positions of the opposition party presidents and their strategy of collaboration with Mr. Peña Nieto, as the parties prepare to negotiate coming proposals for energy and tax overhauls.
According to preliminary results based on 97% of ballots counted, the candidate of a coalition formed by the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, led with 47% of the votes from Sunday’s election. The candidate for Mr. Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, along with some smaller parties, was in second place with 44% of the votes. PRI officials said they would wait for official results to be released Wednesday before deciding if the party accepts defeat. A glitch in the vote reporting system, which shut down for some minutes during the night due to technical problems, added some controversy to the preliminary results. However, senior officials from both sides said official results were unlikely to change significantly.
July 9, 2013
The Economist, 7/8/2013
Leaders of all the main political parties appear to have something to celebrate from elections on July 7th in 14 Mexican states, and President Enrique Peña Nieto must be feeling relieved. The results—especially a probable victory by an opposition alliance in the critical race for governor of Baja California—mean his cherished “Pacto por México”, a cross-party agreement among political forces to push through unprecedented reforms, is likely to remain intact.
Voters, however, have little to cheer about. The outcome, based on provisional results, shows the fragmentation, ideological vacuum and venality of local politics. The elections were held amid a climate of intimidation, partly linked to the influence drug mafias have in many of the states. No wonder the level of abstention in some elections reached at least 60%.